With the pressure of development moving east from Yonge Street, I thought it would be of interest to create a blog around development. How does a neighbourhood balance the pressure to intensify development while protecting the heritage character of the neighbourhood? Do we try to save everything old or just the best bits? Can heritage buildings be incorporated into new development or moved within the boundaries of the existing lot to create building sites for new construction? We are open to discussion and hope that those interested will add to the conversation. Members can post comments; others please pass your thoughts on at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is considerable pressure and concerns about development to the west and north of our area. Please click the links for the Garden District http://www.gardendistrict.ca/ and St Jamestown http://smartdevelopmentinnorthstjamestown.com/index.html.
See the map below. I have highlighted in green areas of the neighbourhood which might potentially be of interest to developers who are not fazed by heritage properties and are willing to work with and around buildings of historical interest. The City's heritage staff and organizations like the Cabbagetown Heritage Advisory Committee feel that designating properties as heritage is somehow incentive enough to save historical properties for generations to come. Designation in itself will not do enough to generate investment in heritage properties. We need to encourage developers and property owners to come up with feasible and sustainable conservation practices and plans to ensure a positive outcome. We need to study how property tax and land transfer tax incentives at the city and provincial level might be used as tools to encourage heritage property conservation. Many heritage properties in the area are in hands of social services and non profit charities. These organizations need help and direction in how they can maintain heritage properties. Heritage conservation groups need to do more hands on fundraising and support, especially to non profit and charity heritage property owners.
While Heritage Conservation Folk work on designation of the residential side streets where in our area there has been very little demolition of substantial heritage properties several houses have been demolished along Sherbourne Street. This building is currently boarded up and has a demolition notice posted on the property. Several other houses along this stretch have disappeared over the last couple of years. There is now a very large vacant lot to the south of this house and the 60's shopping plaza at the corner of Dundas and Sherbourne. All the houses on this vacant lot sat quite snug to the street and there was an opportuninty to build behind while maintaining the houses on the street. Instead the houses are being demolished and no doubt some kind of new high rise development will be proposed. In the mean time the city has declared this property as Heritage and the entire Garden District from Queen to Carlton is under a planning study. Heritage District Designation is part of the planning study and supposedly when such studies are in the works demolition is put on hold. However there is a city issued permit dated March 3, 2012 on the building.
Any new development for the site should include refurbishing this property and building something more appropriate on the plaza lot. Owner occuppied housing in a scale appropriate for the Garden District and Cabbagetown would help in reclaiming this corner and correcting the overconcentration of social housing along Sherbourne Street.
This commercial block on Queen Street near Parliament is a good example of storefront properties with apartments above. Many of these type of commercial blocks lined our main streets with small family run stores on the street level with a family sized apartment above. Many a merchant started successful commercial ventures in such accomodation. Once the business began to flourish the enterprising business owner would move to homes on the grander streets north of the shopping district such as Berkeley or Seaton Streets and the apartment above the shop would be rented to a clerk or manager of the store.
THis particular block backs on to Moss Park Apartments and there would be room to develop a low to mid rise residential property backing the row.
In a recent Development Survey of the neighbourhood a Hotel was one of the more frequent items on area resident's wish list. Whether neighbours felt there was a need for off site accomodation for visiting relatives or it was more the appeal of a dining room and beverage rooms we did not acertain. There are several old hotel buildings in the neighbourhood that sadly are more likely to house conveniece stores and rooming houses upstairs. George Brown College offers an excellent Hotel and Restaurant management course and might we suggest a more hands on partnership with hotel operators that brings back the neighbourhood hotels that dotted many of our area intersections before the advent of large hotel chains like Hilton and Sheraton.
Although many travellers feel more comfortable with and always use a particular big name chain when travelling there are many travellers who go for the smaller, quaint hotels or prefer accomodation a little off the beaten track. Having said that we would not be adverse to any of the chains taking on smaller hotels as part of their operations. It might be a good way to expand into the growing market of smaller boutique hotels.
Hotels at one time had the corner on licensed drinking establishments as part of their operations and literally there was such an establishment on every corner. Like their British and Scottish predecessors hotels and drinking establishments went hand in hand and this tradition continued in Ontario. Brewers sold their product through local tavern/hotel establishments rather than our dull Brewers Retail.
These are a couple of examples of old Hotels in the area and maybe the old tradition of Breweries and Hotels under one roof is an interesting concept. With the growing number of micro breweries in the city the local corner pub/hotel could make a come back. The new owner of the Soupy's Tavern/Hotel also purchased an area Bed and Breakfast and did indicate some interest in eventually refurbishing the old hotel as part of his operation. A more dignified and upbeat name for the establishment should be a priority. With the right licensee running the tavern bar such watering holes could become popular neighbourhood meeting places once again.
The large meeting hall south of Gerrard next to the Beer Store parking lot is the only remaining building which made up a girls school where the Brewers Retail Store and parking lot now stand. The building has had several different tennants/owners over the years from a language school to a Union Hall. The building has also been partially renovated to varying degrees over the years. The property in it self has little potential for redevelopment unless tied to development of the neighbouring Beer Store. The hall itself would make an intersting gallery or studio space.
Brewers Retail should reconsider their retail stratagies and develop a more realistic approach to inner city outlets. They should consider multi-function and multi-use structures rather than their suburban stand alone model. Maybe Beer should be sold through large grocery chains as it is in other provinces.
The parking lot is rarely utilized to full capacity and other than the welcome Zip Car location, is of little appeal to the neighbours. A plan that would somehow incorperates the large hall into a redevelopment of the large Beer Store lot would be most welcome. Maybe the Beer Store should be buried underground and a new development built over it. It would be much easier to keep the inventory cold underground than the current energy drain through refridgeration. Beer Stores take up far too much realestate in our city.
An interesting site with a church, church office and parking lot on the corner opposite Allan Gardens. The Sacer-Coeur Eglise Church on the north east corner at Sherbourne and Carlton Street owns the large parking lot on Bleeker Street pictured left. The commercial block pictured below fronts the parking lot and could be incorporated into a low to mid rise condominium with townhouses facing Bleeker Street. Bleeker street already has a considerable range of housing types from coops to stacked townhouse units.
This block is in a prime location with fabulous views over the neighbouring church rooftops, Allan and Winchester Square Parks and the Financial District to the southwest. The right developer with the right architect could develop an intersting mixed use project that would enhance the commercial block on Carlton and the neighbouring church buildings. Both the church and the commercial row are of architectural and historical interest and with some creative thought the parking lot could be redeveloped in a way to increase church revenues and add much needed range of housing in the neighbourhood while maintaining and adding to the parking needs of the surrounding area. Carlton Street between Parliament and Sherbourne has several commercial blocks that could better serve the Aberdeen and Cabbagetown Neighbourhoods.
St Lukes Church at the corner of Bleeker and Carlton Street has informally approached area Heritage Conservation Groups with a proposal to redevelop the property. I would assume they still own the house immediately to the east of the church and this building was part of that proposal. Next to the former Manse, Mid Toronto Community Services is housed in the former Allan Maclean Howard House. Like the church this building has maintenance issues and monies raised from a joint redevelopment of the properties could be a big help in covering costs. The property is large and underutilized and is well situated with WInchester Park backing onto the site. A small former church situated on Ontario Street just north of Carlton rounds off the site. WIth some careful and sympathetic planning these properties could be redeveloped. Winchester Park on the northern boudary currently has no presense or access from Carlton Street and should be included in any development proposals for this block. Unfortunately pedestrian traffic through the park from the Aberdeen Neighbourhood is blocked by a chain link fence surrounding the Toronto Housing Corporation building facing Bleeker Street.
These properties could be reconfigured to include a low rise building on the undeutilzed driveway/parking lots in the same scale of the surrounding properties overlooking Winchester Park and at the same time improving the pedestrian flow and access to the park from both Bleeker and Carlton Streets. The small church above needs a new lease on life and could be repurposed for more regular and varied uses. Incorporating some low rise housing behind the two historical houses would help bring eyes to the park and help bring a better and safer flow of area residents through the area. For more information on the Maclean Howard Historical House please click here. http://torontohistory.org/Pages_ABC/Allan_Maclean_Howard_House.html
This stretch of Gerrard is a area featuring some excellent heritage houses and some commercial storefront properties in need of major rejuvenation - another site which would benefit from careful balance of redevelopment and conservation. There are several 60s infill buildings which are of questionable architectural interest and function. The Sherbourne Health Center building at the corner of Sherbourne and Gerrard does not relate well to the street and needs a rethink in function. The stretch is currently a real mix of businesses, commercial properties and residential properties in various states of repair.
A small site on a busy corner this particular cluster of properties has had a variety of development proposals floated about but nothing has yet materialized. The last proposal was for some sort of townhouse development, but we are unsure whether the existing buildings were part of the proposal or not. There does seem to be potential for some sort of redevelopment of this corner. The properties are a curious mix of failed commercial/retail development which might be better suited for a strictly residential use. The pharmacy is a solid well proportioned building with some room for development behind.
©Cabbagetown South Association, 2009 Cabbagetown South is incorporated under the name Cabbagetown South Association, Inc.